Worth it for the Spanish rendition—which those who don’t speak the language will be happy to have learned.



From the Canticos series

With this fifth addition to her Canticos line of songs for babies, Venezuelan-born Jaramillo partners Mexico’s Day of the Dead’s painted skeletons, or “calacas,” with a popular Latin American children’s song, “Los Esqueletos.”

This how-to-tell-time counting rhyme is punctuated by the catchy refrain “Tomb-a-laca tomb-a-laca tomb-a tomb-a, tomb-a-laca” and follows the nattily dressed skeletons as they emerge from their tombs (tumbas). The clock counts up from one to 12, while the bony party animals eat, dance, and play. The Spanish language lyrics beg to be shared with laugh-out-loud abandon. However, “esqueletitos” becomes the Spanglish word “skeletitos” instead of “little skeletons” for the sake of maintaining the meter. Unfortunately, this modification isn’t enough to make the stanzas work. The English-language translation is forced and awkward in too many instances. “When the old clock strikes the hour of three, / three skeletitos backwards flee!” Rather than rewriting the lyrics, Jaramillo must rely on near rhymes since the eye-catching black-and-white illustrations are identical for both versions. Sadly, aside from a clock with movable hands, the interactive elements of Jaramillo’s previous books are lacking here. The accordion-fold design, on the other hand, continues to ensure that neither the Spanish nor English text takes precedence over the other. A free downloadable app of the song is available for home enjoyment.

Worth it for the Spanish rendition—which those who don’t speak the language will be happy to have learned. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945635-06-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Encantos

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Genial starter nonfiction.


From the PlayTabs series

Panels activated by sliding tabs introduce youngsters to the human body.

The information is presented in matter-of-fact narration and captioned, graphically simple art featuring rounded lines, oversized heads and eyes, and muted colors. The sliding panels reveal new scenes on both sides of the page, and arrows on the large tabs indicate the direction to pull them (some tabs work left and right and others up and down). Some of the tabs show only slight changes (a white child reaches for a teddy bear, demonstrating how arms and hands work), while others are much more surprising (a different white child runs to a door and on the other side of the panel is shown sitting on the toilet). The double-page spreads employ broad themes as organizers, such as “Your Body,” “Eating Right,” and “Taking Care of Your Body.” Much of the content is focused on the outside of the body, but one panel does slide to reveal an X-ray image of a skeleton. While there are a few dark brown and amber skin tones, it is mostly white children who appear in the pages to demonstrate body movements, self-care, visiting the doctor, senses, and feelings. The companion volume, Baby Animals, employs the same style of sliding panels to introduce youngsters to little critters and their parents, from baboons to penguins.

Genial starter nonfiction. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-850-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design.


From the Mrs. Peanuckle's Alphabet Library series , Vol. 4

From Ant to Zorapteran, each page presents a variety of insects, both commonplace and obscure.

Narrator Mrs. Peanuckle, who enjoys sharing her likes and dislikes and writing about herself in the third person, has penned one to two sentences of quirky description and interesting facts for each insect representing a different letter of the alphabet: “L is for Ladybug / The loveliest of insects. They help Mrs. Peanuckle by eating the bugs on her roses!” The text often takes up most of the page and employs a different typeface per word, thus making the pages difficult to scan—often the featured letter of the alphabet merges with the name of the insect (“Inchworm” looks as though it has two I’s, for example). Ford’s lively insects skitter around the words in luminescent color; as with any effective insect book, there’s just enough detail to provoke interest without an ick-response. The companion book, Mrs. Peanuckle’s Flower Alphabet, presents blooms from Aster to Zinnia, with the same formula but with a more winsome approach to the art; here many of the flowers sport smiling faces in the same bold color palette.

Youngsters will enjoy the playful art if they aren’t overwhelmed by the busy design. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62336-939-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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